What do you do when weight loss begins to leave you miserable? When is the right time to stop? And what do we do when our happiness is guided by what we see on the scale, rather than the state of our health?
Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those “fat acceptance” articles where you read about how “fatphobia” is ingrained in Western culture – this is far from it. Teaching women to simply “accept their bodies” for “self-care” when they’re unfit and in a self-plaguing state is not a suitable teaching. In fact, it’s probably one of the most counterproductive and unhelpful pieces of advice we give women in society today. Self-care shouldn't mean giving in to your every whim and "treating yourself" to the point of unhealthiness. It should be about respecting and loving yourself enough to take appropriate care of your body.
Our desire to accept a variety of body sizes has morphed into a culture of glorifying obesity. Over the last decade, we’ve seen obesity rates rise, leaving young women trapped in bodies that are making them sick and a medical world that's turning a blind eye to the problem.
We’re only given one body; it’s our duty to treat it well.
We saw it in Covid cases too – high levels of fatalities in those suffering from obesity. Covid is only one recent example of how living in such a way can only put you at further risk of a handful of diseases. Heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes: all diseases where lifestyle changes may have helped many avoid illness. Some would say such ideas are oppressive, but these oppressions have only formed from suppressions in activity that were self-induced. But it isn’t always an aesthetic thing, we’re only given one body; it’s our duty to treat it well, to live lives of longevity.
Of course, it’s easy to make such a statement. Weight is an incredibly complex issue, and the debate on how we counteract obesity is a long one too. But what about the people on the other side of this? The countless numbers of young men and women whose fear of becoming fat leads them down a narrow and never-ending road?
Fat-Fear and Disordered Eating
With obesity still being unacceptable to many of us, it’s understandable that insecurities lie rife and rampant too. Though we have people who ruin their bodies through overeating, something more commonly condoned, we also have people who don’t know how to attain proper nutrition at all. Their way of dieting (and life) is simply “low calorie” and “low fat” – some even look to starvation.
Many of us are rarely satisfied with how we look and strive to achieve the “perfect” body.
Even without the fear of becoming overweight, many of us desire a figure that’s often unnatural for us, even the bodies we look at and gain inspiration from are often obtained in unnatural ways. We are rarely satisfied with how we look and climb to great lengths in order to achieve the “perfect” body. Many, of course, would argue that there is no “perfect body,” but as humans (more specifically as women), it’s only natural for us to strive for a slimmer physique, but alongside this comes all sorts of proportions that take a lot of hard work and struggle. The main problem is that countless numbers of young women find deep complexity in setting safe boundaries, and when they do, they end up crossing them anyway.
“Quick Fixes” Breed Sickness
The most popular searched term in Google for weight loss (after “how to lose weight”) is “how to lose weight fast.” Though this is to be expected, it’s saddening that a significant amount of people on a global scale search for “fast” weight loss tips rather than “healthy” ones. As humans, we seek instant gratification wherever possible. Many of us don’t want to put in the long-term effort to ensure that we carry out weight loss in a matter that’s long-lasting and doesn’t leave us feeling drained by the middle of the day.
Being skinny doesn’t automatically equate to being healthy.
What a lot of young women still fail to realize is that you can easily be skinny yet less healthy than someone who’s overweight. Being skinny doesn’t automatically equate to being healthy. You could be malnourished and sick, even if you look like you’re in good shape. Far too many people use weight loss as their main body progress metric, but in the long run, by not giving themselves proper nutrition, they’re neglecting their health and setting their bodies up for failure.
Weight Loss, but at the Expense of Health
Losing weight at the expense of your health is incredibly hazardous and will damage you both short and long-term. Weight loss can be a side effect of a healthy diet, but it can also be a side effect of an unhealthy one. We often cave to fad diets that work short-term, but only leave you gaining weight back once you (inevitably) give them up. Think about the diets you’ve heard of in your life, they may even be ones you’ve tried out. Remember how varied they were, how great you felt on some, and how tired and miserable you felt on others. Why do we do this to ourselves? What ever happened to just being healthy?
A healthy diet doesn’t suppress your appetite – or your spirits.
Losing weight by simply having a healthy diet may take longer, but the results last longer. A healthy lifestyle can work long-term and be sustainable, leaving you far less likely to gain the weight back. Eating healthy foods, ones rich in nutrients, will leave you with more energy (which you could even use to exercise). A healthy diet doesn’t suppress your appetite (or your spirits) — it also allows you to treat yourself every now and then without the guilt.
So many of us spend our days counting calories or avoiding fat when much of that isn’t the issue at all. We can be free to eat the things we love, but some things should just be kept in moderation.
Your body fights every day to keep you alive and well; it’s your job to keep it healthy and to facilitate this. Obsessing over food is no way to live, whether it be in binge eating or not eating at all. Genuine self-love begins with proper self-care.
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